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Posts Tagged ‘strength’


James 1-4: Good Works

Thursday, October 20, 2022

North Carolina, Belmont, Lectio divina, a reflective meditation on the Bible, is an essential aspect of monastic life. Several hours are devoted to its study each day.

Perhaps James spent time with Psalm 62 as he learned scripture. We can see clear connections between this hymn and his letter. James knows that when wars and quarrels break out our most effective and most sensible refuge is God alone.

God, the one and only. I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life.

James knows that when we struggle with temptation and giving in to easy promises and quick bribes, we have no enduring strength.

How long will you gang up on me? How long will you run with the bullies? There’s nothing to you, any of you – rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters, anthills plotting to bring down mountains, far gone in make-believe. You talk a good line, but every “blessing” breathes a curse.

James knows that the world offers a foundation of shifting sand but that God offers us solid ground.

My help and glory are in God – granite-strength and safe-harbor-God – so trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be. Man as such is smoke, woman as such, a mirage. Put them together, they’re nothing; two times nothing is nothing.

James knows that with God we receive a just wage for our hard-earned works.

And a windfall, if it comes – don’t make too much of it. God said this once and for all; how many times have I heard it repeated? “Strength comes straight from God.” Love to you, Lord God! You pay a fair wage for a good day’s work!

James knows something that he wants to share with us. Today we reflect on his letter in light of Psalm 62 while considering the good works we offer up as we build the kingdom. We are grateful for God’s great generosity, tender compassion and healing love.

Compare varying versions of Psalm 62. Consider the good works we offer each day to God and consider our response.


Image from: http://ryandueck.com/sermons/

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Vlighthouse

Sunday, September 18, 2022

If we cannot believe in restoration after the desert, let us at least begin by asking God to strengthen our gift of faith. Just as a mariner trusts that the lighthouse will guide ships past rocky shores, let us trust the Gospel story of Jesus. The writer of the letter to Hebrews shows us the way. From Hebrews 11.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

If we do not have confidence, let us ask God for this gift of sureness.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

If we do not have understanding, let us ask God for the gift of wisdom.

hebrews_1xIt was by this faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.

If we do not have fidelity, let us ask God for the gift of certainty.

And even when Abraham reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.

If we do not see or believe in God’s promise in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of hope.

For Abraham was looking for a city with eternal foundations, a city whose architect and builder was God.

If we do not feel or comprehend God’s power in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of fortitude. And let us pray.

Nat geo lighthouse in stormGood and loving God, your fidelity lives in us although we may not perceive it. Being your creatures we are made of love for love; yet we might not believe this. Breathe new life into those who are discouraged or unbelieving. Bring new strength to those who falter. And shower us with your hope and encouragement so that we might come to fully know, and feel and understand that your only wish for us is our restoration in and for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

Tomorrow, laying a foundation for restoration . . . 


Images from: http://walkbyfaithkkw2011.blogspot.com/2012/05/contentment.html and https://www.pinterest.com/totogale/new-testament-hebrews/ 

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IV

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Perhaps the reason we do not find serenity is that we do not ask for restoration. Today St. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, reminds us that reunion with God is only a petition away. He is a follower of Christ because he answered God’s invitation to follow.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find peace is that we do not ask for strength.

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find solace is that we do not ask forgiveness.

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience love is that we have not shown mercy.

I have been mercifully treated . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience transformation is that we do not believe in restoration.

The grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ . . .

Today we spend time with the opening chapter of Paul’s first letter to Timothy and we ponder what our lives might be like if and when we seek strength, forgiveness and mercy. We reflect on the possibility of new life rising from the arid bones of our sorrow.

Tomorrow, finding faith . . . 


Use the scripture link to explore varying editions of 1 Timothy 1.

Image from: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-is-the-significance-of-the-valley-of-dry-bones-in-ezekiel.html

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Isaiah 40: Beyond Self

Michaelangelo: The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam – detail

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Isaiah again today, and it is the chapter which begins the second half of the prophecy – often referred to as the Book of Consolation. The words remind us also of chapters 38 through 42 of Job when God speaks to his loyal yet questioning servant.

Like Job, we also may have questions for the creator of the universe, questions about his plan for us, his plan for others, questions about how God expects so many diverse elements can possibly come together in peaceful union. Today’s citation tells us that we need not fret about how God’s plan will be accomplished. It tells us that if we place our hope in God, all that is inscrutable will be made plain to us.  Isaiah asks: Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Was it not foretold you form the beginning?  Have you not understood? 

Our spirit is captured in human vessels, struggling to break free, to soar above the ugly parts of this life; and yet in all of our struggle for release we forget that we have already been ransomed, as we spent time reflecting yesterday. Do you not know or have you not heard?  The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. Today’s words are a reminder that we are not meant to struggle alone.

When we present to God daily our list of petitions that beg for miracles . . . God does not faint or grow weary.

When we are confounded by the duplicity and complexity if darkness . . . God’s knowledge is beyond scrutiny.

In all of our turmoil, all of our tears, all of our anxiety . . . God gives strength to the fainting.

In the darkest hours, in the deepest mourning, in the depths of despair . . . God makes vigor abound.

Wherever we are wrung out, exhausted, at wit’s end, beyond recovery and when we stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. 

There is always joy beyond our imaginings. There is always strength beyond our human power. This is what makes us divine . . . in that we acknowledge this divinity and allow ourselves to be drawn to it. Once we step out of self, empty self, and allow God in, then we too have knowledge beyond scrutiny, strength beyond fainting, and joy beyond tears.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Creation_of_Adam

A Favorite from July 3, 2009.

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2 Corinthians 12:9-10: The Mystery of Powerplant in crack

Thursday, June 17, 2022

The Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

How many of us can say that we are content with the obstacles and restrictions that curb our will? How often have we been content to live out God’s plan rather than our own? And how open are we to the power and mystery of grace in our lives?

God says: I know that you want to please me and this desire fills me with joy. I delight in your willingness to follow and believe that I have your own joy in mind every moment of each day and night. So often you see my love as a restriction or punishment and this is not so. My love wants to liberate you from all fear and foreboding. My grace is a gift that fills you with the ability to trust me. It is a gift you cannot earn, a mystery you cannot understand; but this does not worry me . . . and it ought not worry you. My love is able to bring joy from grief, gladness from anxiety and goodness from harm. All I ask is your fidelity and love. All you need is my strength in your weakness. Think about this inversion today and see if you can come to a full understanding of this upside-down view of the world.

And so we pray:

When we look for signs of God’s grace in our weakness we become strong.

When we discover signs of God’s hope in our fears we become courageous.

When we find compassion in God’s plan we become merciful.

When we nurture seeds of humility in our pride we become loving.

When we discern opportunities for transformation in our suffering we become wise.

When we treasure your justice in the deepest of grievances in our pain we become your presence to the world.

Give us your strength in our weakness today and all days. Amen.


Image from: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2010/12/weakness-strength-and-the-end-of-self.html

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Ephesians 4:3-6: The Mystery of the Spiritwhat_is_the_holy_spirit_cover

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Strive to preserve the mystery of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all, who is over all and through and in all.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains that the pagan gods of the Greek and Roman societies are indifferent, distant, and selfish; and they operate in a manner that runs counter to the Law of Love that Jesus describes for us.

God says: With these verses, my servant delivers a plea for unity. In your disparate lives you will too often move away from one another and away from yourselves for it is in the encounter with others that you best discover yourself. This is the mystery of my Spirit. She dwells within each of you, whispering words of comfort, healing physical and psychological pain. Yet she also dwells as a binding, calling voice to all of you. No one is left aside. No one is abandoned or left alone. All are welcome. All are loved. This is the great mystery of my love and of your life. Do not struggle against it; rather, lean into it. This love that wants to heal and transform is all you need to save you from turmoil and sorrow. When you live in me, you will constantly be surprised by my presence in unusual places. When you live through me you will consistently find the strength you will need as you work for me. My Spirit is in each. My Spirit is in all. My Spirit cannot be extinguished. My Spirit cannot be resisted. Allow the miracle and mystery of my love to live in and through you. Bring my presence to the world.

When we believe that one small action on the part of one person cannot make a difference, we have separated ourselves from the mystery and possibility of God’s love. Explore the work of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an organization that works with the homeless to bring to fruition in a surprising way the healing and unifying work of the Spirit. We may also want to explore organizations that bring the most hope to those with homes who may experience hopelessness. Visit: https://impactful.ninja/best-charities-for-helping-homeless-people/


Image from: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/holy-spirit/

 

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Matthew 10:1-15: Our Commission 

Tissot: Exhortation to the Disciples

James Tissot: Exhortation to the Disciples

Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 29, 2022

We are a week away from Pentecost Sunday and so we take time to review our Eastertide Noontimes to consider God’s wisdom in each of us as we look for the answer to these questions: What does Jesus have in mind for us this Eastertide? How does Jesus expect us to bring compassion to the world? And, where will we find the wisdom, courage and strength to do so?

A foundational theme in Jesus’ work and words is the importance of inclusion. We see him interact with women, tax collectors, Pharisees and lost souls. He walks among the clean and unclean alike; he ministers to the deaf and blind as well as the comfortable and well-off. Today and tomorrow we reflect on where and when we might step into the mission God extends to us. Do we move out and away from the community in which we are planted or do we remain and look for new windows of opportunity to enact our commission? As we prepare for our newest assignment in this important work, we do well to remember Jesus’ words.

Go to the lost sheep . . .

Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons . . .

Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give . . .

Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it and stay there . . .

As you enter a house, wish it peace . . .

If the house is worthy l let your peace come upon it . . .

If not, let your peace return to you . . .


Use the scripture link above to search other versions of these verses . . . and allow God to reveal to you the commission he has in mind for your work. Enter the word Pentecost into the blog search bar and explore.

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Matthew 13:54-14:2: Opinionsover-inflating-your-opinion

Wednesday, March 23, 2015

He did not work many mighty deeds in his native place because of their lack of faith. The opinion of those who knew Jesus as a child blocks his neighbors from seeing what is so plainly true.

Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25) What, then, does human opinion matter if we do not move and live in God?

Paul tells the Ephesians and he tells us that by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:6-9) How, then, are we to believe that we can heal and restore unless we heal and restore in Christ Jesus?

Paul asks the Galatians and he asks us: Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:3-5) Why, then, might we put aside the Spirit and believe that we are complete without God’s indwelling presence?

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him”.  The opinion of the one who ruled over Jesus’ native land is influenced by the power he wields and the influence he exerts on others.

Might we compare our own opinion of Jesus with that of those who knew him so well? What is our vision of wisdom, grace, faith, weakness and foolishness? How do we receive the miracle of life that awakens us each day and accompanies us to bed each night?

In our Lenten journey we pause to consider . . . whose opinions matter most to us . . . and how do these opinions influence our thoughts and deeds each day?


Image from: https://eraoftechnology.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/over-inflating-your-opinion/

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prophet_jonah__image_10_sjpg2463Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Joy and Jonah

Reluctance

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today we may or may not identify with Jonah’s story. If we do, we understand that we are loved despite our reluctance to respond to God’s goodness. If we do not, we have all the more reason to rejoice in the presence of the Lord.

“This book is a didactic story with an important theological message. It concerns a disobedient prophet who attempted to run away from his divine commission, was cast overboard and swallowed by a great fish, rescued in a marvelous manner, and sent on his way to Nineveh, the traditional enemy of Israel . . . From this partly humorous story, a very sublime lesson may be drawn. Jonah stands for a narrow and vindictive mentality, all too common among the Jews of that period . . . [This prophecy] has prepared the way for the gospel with its message of redemption for all”. (Senior 1137)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me; from the midst of the netherworld I cried for help, and you heard my voice . . . In the maelstrom God is always present.

Jonah 2:6: The waters swirled around me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me; seaweed hung about my heard. Down I went to the roots of the mountains; . . . but you brought up my life from the pit . . . In the storms of life God’s promise prevails.

Matthew 12:39-41: [Jesus] answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. j   For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here”.

joyJonah tells us that despite his reluctance and fear, he finds a reason to rejoice.

Jesus tells us that despite the storm that rages, he is always with us.

If can find the time to spend with this short prophecy, we will be well rewarded. And we may find the strength and joy to celebrate an end to our own reluctance.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1137. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://thepropheticbooksofbible.org/

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